What comes after an Artswork Creative Apprenticeship?
Date Created: 30th May 2019
Our current Programme Assistant Meg discusses her transition from a guided apprenticeship into the world of full time work. Becoming a part of three different teams in the organisation, the ex- apprentice explains the various new tasks she has been involved with so far.
I began my apprenticeship in Community Arts Administration back in February 2018 with Artswork as both my employer and training provider. On my first day as Artswork’s new ‘Artsmark and Arts Award Assistant’ I was considerably nervous, especially stepping into a work environment and role so different to the those I was used to as a waitress and shop assistant. After the first week, it became evident that the staff I would be working with were all welcoming and keen to help me succeed.
Throughout the apprenticeship, I began to notice a substantial (and continual) development of confidence in the role I was pursuing. I became more comfortable accepting new tasks and projects given to me and even began to use my initiative and offer to undertake them. After gaining a better insight into what my colleagues in the Artsmark team were responsible for, it made me keen to see what parts I could support them with. One of my first tasks was contacting external organisations to book venues for our training events – Artsmark Development Days. This was slightly nerve-wracking initially, with the concern that I might confuse the information, however once I had done this a few times, it became fluent.
Conveniently, the colleagues I worked directly with were supportive and understanding when I began to delve into new areas of work, always informing me that everyone makes mistakes here and there and it is a normal part of development in a job. I feel this is vitally important for any apprentice to receive this sort of assurance and support, as it creates an environment where they are comfortable giving new things a go, aren’t scared to try and don’t feel under pressure to be perfect- especially when they are likely putting a lot of pressure on themselves already. I could not fault Artswork in its approach to apprenticeships and the way they work with the apprentices themselves, taking each of us as individuals. The apprenticeship team here were always on hand for support and advice and showed genuine care for my wellbeing within the workplace.
An inspiring element of my year as an apprentice was undoubtedly the leadership project I had to do as part of my Silver Arts Award. I choose to develop my visual art practice, specifically painting. The Unit 2 of a Silver Arts Award is focused on leadership and this culminated in myself organising a painting workshop for the staff at Artswork. Everyone present contributed to one large canvas which I had designed based on the theme of environment. It was interesting to see everyone’s different approaches to painting and their confidence levels before and after. Some staff were apprehensive to begin as this wasn’t their creative practice, however after they had admitted that they found the session of painting, calming and enjoyable. Furthermore, it was fulfilling to be able to speak to colleagues in a relaxed and informal way as the workshop had created an adequate environment for people to do so freely- I felt this would hopefully further improve the working space after.
Now in May 2019, I have begun my role as a ‘Programme Assistant’. This differs from my previous role as an ‘Artsmark and Arts Award Assistant’ during my apprenticeship as it incorporates elements of marketing as well as finance and operations. I work within the Communications team one day a week, which so far has included research to improve our ‘15-25 years’ section of the website as well as designing and uploading training event adverts and sending invitations to potential event attendees. This area of my role has allowed me to experience different programmes the Comms team use to complete their work, such as ‘Campaign Monitor’, whilst granting me freedom and responsibility with the individual research.
Alongside my role within the Comms team and the Artsmark Programme, I have also been supporting Finance and Operations with constructing the organisation’s Environmental Action Plan for 2019-2022. I have found this work both engaging and in some way personal since I feel invested in issues of sustainability and environmental impact, especially since the IPCC report was published in October 2018. Recently, I had been working on a survey for all staff to answer, focused on extracting what environmental issues the organisation care collectively about. Additionally the survey hoped to gain an understanding of what ways we could work together (through schemes and activities) to further reduce things like our CO2 emissions or plastic usage. It is wonderful to be able to contribute to something as important as the action plan since it allows me to independently research (which gives me ideas on how I can reduce my own household waste/energy usage) as well as provide suggestions and see how they might be embedded into policy.
As an assistant within the Artsmark team I have been able to become responsible for a variety of work which I hadn’t engaged with before. For example, I have been helping to organise our Artsmark Celebration Events in June by contacting our guest speakers and co-ordinating how this element of the day will work. This has resulted in contact with the venues involved, including a recent site visit to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. I am looking forward to trying new work and seeing what dynamics suit me best and what work I find most enjoyable. It is a useful analysis to have when I am looking for future roles.
I am intrigued to see where my six month, full-time contract at Artswork leads me, in terms of what ideas it gives me for future roles since the work I am doing is varied, meaning it could take me onto a route I hadn’t expected- environmental conservation work seems appealing at the moment. I am certain my Programme Assistant role will leave me equipped in September with new skills, connections and confidence that I can practice in whatever comes next.